Rabat – Algerian President Aziz Bouteflika is “no longer able to lead” and should be blocked from seeking a fifth term, say former foreign minister Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi, lawyer and rights activist Ali Yahia Abdenour, and retired navy chief Rachid Benyelles in a joint statement published October 8 by the Algerian press.
The 80-year-old president has been in power since 1999, winning a fourth term in 2014 despite deteriorating health caused by a cerebral vascular accident the previous year that affected his mobility and reduced his public appearances.
Nonetheless, some of his entourage have declared publicly that Bouteflika is preparing for a fifth term at the presidency in 2019.
“That’s enough!” write Ibrahimi, Abdenour, and Benyelle sin the press statement, calling on all Algerians to come together to avoid the sinking of the country and create a “common front” against those who “confiscated power for nearly 20 years.”
“The current head of state, very heavily handicapped, is manifestly no longer able to continue to lead the country,” they write.
In their statement, the three personalities accuse “those who truly hold power, namely the president’s family circle and a group of powerful oligarchs” of supporting as a candidate for the fifth presidential term “an old man who is impotent and unable to express himself.”
“In any other democratic country, a similar situation would have led either to a resignation freely expressed by the President himself in the name of the best interests of the Nation or his dismissal by constitutional means,” said the statement.
The three also condemn the president’s relatives and his circle of businessmen of having “squandered the oil windfall without worrying about the future of the country.”
The signatories called the army, which they say has always had a central role in the main orientations of the country, to “convincingly differentiate itself from the group that has unduly seized the power,” and to help facilitate regime change.
Their statement garnered the attention of many opposition figures, intellectuals, and academics calling for the dismissal of Bouteflika.